The most important benefits of a California criminal record expungement under Penal Code 1203.4 PC include:
- Assistance with finding a job;
- Help with obtaining professional licenses;
- Assistance with joining professional organizations;
- Preventing the past conviction from being used to impeach your credibility in certain court proceedings; and
- Personal satisfaction.
Expungement Benefit #1: Job Applications
For most people, the most valuable benefit of expunging your California criminal record is that it can assist you in securing employment, in spite of suffering a criminal conviction.1
Today, almost every employer does a background check before hiring a job applicant. These background checks usually reveal the applicant's records of arrests, convictions and probation status. Most employers also ask the job applicant if s/he has ever been convicted of a crime.
A major benefit of a PC 1203.4 expungement is that a person who receives one can lawfully answer “no” if asked whether he/she has been convicted of a crime. Also, an employer is not allowed to consider an expunged conviction turned up by a background check in making a decisions about whether to hire a job applicant.2
Moreover, the California Code of Regulations says an employer cannot even ask a job applicant about an expunged misdemeanor conviction. It is unclear whether an employer may inquire about expunged felony convictions.3
Expungement Benefit #2: State Licenses
A Penal Code 1203.4 expungement offers important benefits to those seeking state professional licenses.
To be sure, even after an expungement you must still disclose the conviction in response to any question posed in an application for a state license (such as a contractors license or real estate license) or application for public office.
But many licensing agencies are more likely to grant a state license to people whose convictions have been expunged. And many will look upon the situation more favorably (or less unfavorably) if the applicant has successfully completed probation and the expungement process.
Expungement Benefit #3: Professional Organizations
Many professional organizations do background checks before inviting someone to join or to hold a position or a seat. But another benefit of having gone through the PC 1203.4 expungement process is that the stigma and ill effect of a criminal conviction can be reduced in this situation.
Expungement Benefit #4: Credibility as a Witness in Court
Another California expungement benefit is that an expunged prior conviction cannot be used to impeach your credibility as a witness in court (unless you are the defendant being prosecuted in a new criminal case).4
Normally, if you have a felony on your record, and you are serving as a witness in court in California, the opposing side may bring up your felony conviction as a way to question your credibility. But they are not permitted to do so if you expunged the felony conviction.5
This expungement benefit can be enormously helpful if, for example, you sue someone else or are sued for damages in a civil suit and your own testimony is key to the outcome.
Expungement Benefit #5: Personal Satisfaction
Many of our clients express a great sense of relief after gaining an expungement. While it does not magically erase the past, it helps bring redemption for a mistake and closure to a frustrating chapter in their lives–an immense personal benefit that cannot be quantified.
Will a PC 1203.4 expungement have immigration benefits?
An expungement generally does not preclude the immigration consequences of a criminal conviction, such as deportation, denial of admission and denial of naturalization. Immigration benefits are one of the things that a California criminal records expungement does NOT provide.